Act Now

If the flowers decline to tell the bees why
they are tasked with stretching the thread
of continuance all the way to the garden’s edge
—or why they must adumbrate its shaky lace
even in the face of hard hands or a wet
summer—then why should we have to move

so far from this godly meadow, one move
shy of the brutallest checkmate? At the Y
I watched your legs resist equipment, wet
like the dogs no one shakes or the thread
no one can make go into the needlelace
because it’s borderline, too near an edge

to manipulate. If I ask you to edge
before I get home it’s because I move
too slowly anyway—I want to lace
your bones with shimmering desire, the why
to want’s what, the unhidden thread
we lay bare in the rich, soily wet

of mid-May, our brief spring’s groaning whet-
stone. Who brought us to the edge
of living? Which forum thread
told us the exact dimensions of the move
we needed to make, and why
on earth didn’t we tell anyone? Two lace-

less cleats, cast up high in the one place
you’ll never be able to reach them. A sweat
ring wrung permanent in the bedclothes. Why
not fool around a little before work, at the edge
of our shared wakefulness? Don’t move,
I’ll turn off this seemingly endless thread

of alarms, your morning body’s warmth red
and breathing next to mine. If my place
in the universe were at even a small remove
from yours, my ugly heart would pirouette
out across the roof of the world to a ledge
off which I’d leap / towards you. This is why

I’m so afraid to thread your wet
hair anyplace but through mine. The edge
is too close to move. I hope you see why.


By Nathanielle Dawn

cranberry juice & no sexual healing

what do her lips taste like?

do they taste sweet

like she smothered them in bubble gum?

or is the taste slightly bitter

like cranberry juice?

probably the latter

so when her kisses become bitter

was it due to texts left on read?

was it due to sex becoming the only way you connect?

does the routine go like this:

you both touch each other

until it burns both of you like an open flame

then you go in for another kiss

only for her lips to taste like

cranberry juice again

at this point

not even Marvin Gaye himself

would sing Sexual Healing for you


Vanessa Maki is a writer (& other things) who is queer & full of black girl magic. She’s been published in Enclave, Faded Out, Rag Queen Periodical, Occulum, Five:2:One Magazine & SYS. She also founded/runs an online literary journal for qpoc.

Blooming Late, Talking Dirty

At 15, I was two padded bras, layered,
masquerading as breasts
not blooming late but
a thistle knot: unyielding.

At night I’d steal away
and call phone sex lines
hoping there was enough intimacy
in this world for a thistle girl

there were those oozy voices
one minute, thirty seconds
I liked them
they were achy bloody sticky, felt like friends

they taught me to think about what
to say for sex
harder deeper squeeze me drown it
I never talked back, but I think they could hear my thorny wishes:

give me something
touch me.


Rita Mookerjee’s poetry is forthcoming in Lavender Review, Sorority Mansion Review, and Spider Mirror Journal. Her critical work has been featured in the Routledge Companion of Literature and Food, the Bloomsbury Handbook to Literary and Cultural Theory, and the Bloomsbury Handbook of Twenty-First Century Feminist Theory. She currently teaches ethnic minority fiction and women’s literature at Florida State University where she is a PhD candidate specializing in contemporary Caribbean literature with a focus on queer theory. Her current research deals with the fiction of Edwidge Danticat.

Ava Gardner

I read once that Ava Gardner kept her face wrinkle-free
by stretching and clasping the hooks she’d sewn into
the back of her head.

This kind of beauty, I read, would be impossible today
because those hooks would be caught
by high-definition cameras.

Like hooked-Ava,
not Mogambo Ava (who could compare oneself to Mogambo Ava?),
I am not a high-definition beauty.

I am glorious by candlelight,
toned and lined and shaded, and stunning
in Polaroid, angled in profile, ripe from the rear.

But in high-definition (or in fluorescent),
I am terrifying, round eyed with awful
nostrils and feminine lips.

My chest is too large and
my shoulders too slim, and I worry that my eye skin
looks like foreskin.

So meet me after midnight under the gaslights on Drury Lane
and we’ll step into a candlelit pub and drink our fill.
You’ll look at me and think I’m the most beautiful boy you’ve ever seen.


Like Sharon Stone and the zipper, Mike McClelland is originally from Meadville, Pennsylvania. He has lived on five different continents but now resides in Georgia with his husband, son, and a menagerie of rescue dogs. His is the author of the short fiction collection Gay Zoo Day (Beautiful Dreamer Press, 2017) and his work has appeared publications such as the Boston Review, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Permafrost, and others. Keep up with him at

To Melvin

neuro-gnosis plasmid dyspraxic morphemes overheated like canned chili pot mealworm fractioned from the Nechako alfalfa gesticulate hookah’s of eurhythmic libido with the Human-Condition syndrome of an inverted spectrum Guardia festering in the womyn’s urinal during AD 8000.

The intergenerational dyslexia of Solomon’s barbiturates tea-bag bludgeons of Journeyman explosive sympathetic nervous system self-sustaining units like fellatio-instantiated Mortimer’s Geneva vacation. Para-thrusting from the Zenoan distance bilaterally east to the encephalic labia’s location in the Mindscape. Ojibwa granulated December-esque marmalades speak in Marfan tongues of genderless Horatio’s multi-gender cubicles sporing bodily fluids: epiphenomenal social organisms group masturbate recidivism in a gifted Krishna primus’ nodenetwork south-center towards ontological independences if and only if Sigmund Freud is the prophet of Kelloggian Yukon hermeneutics.

Maximally Non-Existentially Imported Beings guzzle the homunculus pancake-snorting the healing of the pan-gendered soul’s c-fiber to pull the locket behind the monodeistic, thought-controlled, pool-side stall. Animism of menstruating logorrhea that is teleologically in the bodily forms of an ideonomical calculator with the automatism of Thalean moisture, its symbiosis with the un- clothed gymnasium artifacts, its blood drinking of Papa Smurf’s (I know “it” as God) paternalistic psychobabble: hirustisic water that every possible deviancy drinks.


Tiana Lavrova is an eighteen year old who has an interest in all things art and science: including sculpture, product design, printmaking, free verse poetry, and the mental health and psychological sciences. She is also the author of two forthcoming chapbooks: dancing girl press and Grey Borders Books in 2018

Never Turn Your Back On The Ocean

you stood at the edge of the promenade and waited
as stones clapped out a quick little rhythm
as water surged into feet and skin
the idiot waves danced, moon-tethered
they spat, and you spat back, your hair a pennant
rippling towards me. the beach, bespectacled with
sea-glass, shone. the churning storm tugging
at fingertips, the rush, an orgasm of static, burst —
the self-aware hush, creeping back. how it beckons.
how your mouth is salt, ozone and spit.


Lorna Martin lives in North London and on @lornarabbit. Her poetry has appeared in A Quiet Courage, Foxglove Journal, Roulade Magazine and Crush Anthology (Brunel University Press). She also reviews films for Blueprint Review.

Body like a House, Hands like Home

In my dream last night, you finally kissed me, finally opened
your door of a mouth wide enough that my past could fit through it.
My barred window lips, unsure of themselves & unsure of you,
tried to craft stories from the contact high of being so
near your chest, tried to turn your touch into non-negotiable
poems about heartache & loss & gain & futures & eventual trust
in me, I guess, but mostly in us.

Brought my right hand down to place on your thigh
but your body had distorted itself until it was my childhood
home – teal outside paint except one beige spot on the chimney,
basset hound barking from the wooden back deck.
I leaned in closer to the second story gable window to
see myself sitting on my white canopy bed
104.3 WZYP radio blasting through my 1990s boom box,
staring at my sticker-covered blue corded phone
waiting/always waiting
for a boy to call who never actually would
until you breathed into our image & everything disappeared.

Wordlessly, your hands questioned my intentions, asked my hips
if they liked what I saw. Could I ever love a man filled with
unmade memories already so comfortable that
I could slide into them like freshly-washed bedsheets
after years of sleeping cold on the ground every night?

I could.




Rachel Tanner is an Alabamian writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bad Pony Mag, Anti-Heroin Chic, Atticus Review, Tenderness, Yea, and elsewhere. She tweets @rickit.